novels

New StoryNerds episode!

StoryNerds podcast with Christian romance authors Jessica Kate and Hannah Davis

Get ready to tune in and nerd out: the second episode of the StoryNerds podcast is here!

My fellow StoryNerd Hannah Davis and I are talking about ‘Home in Pop Culture’, in reference to our respective homes of Australia and Minnesota.

I managed to talk about Pitch Perfect, Thor, Crocodile Dundee and the Crocodile Hunter all in one conversation!

So if you want the inside scoop of what’s real and what’s not in fictional Australia, check out our summary video or the whole podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy nerding!

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StoryNerds podcast and vlog are here!

Nerd out on books, movies and TV with StoryNerds!

The wait is over! If you’ve been following my Facebook page, you will have seen my building excitement over the launch of the StoryNerds podcast and vlog — and today’s the day!

At StoryNerds, my writing buddy Hannah Davis and I nerd out over the best books, movies and TV.

During the test phase of StoryNerds we released a series of short videos on our favourite fictional heroes and heroines, and now that we’re officially starting our new format, the first podcast episode is on Favorite Romance Novels.

The podcast is live now at Podomatic, and our iTunes/Spotify/Stitcher listings should be coming through soon.

So come, nerd out and share your hilarious GIFs with us over at StoryNerds!

 

Book review: Then There Was You

then there was you

Check our my first YouTube book review on Kara Isaac’s Christian romance, Then There Was You. 

Plus, you’ll hear how progress on my current project Stuck With You is going, and check out my back-and-forth videos with multi-published author Johnnie Alexander!

 

 

How to Stop Feeling Guilty about not Working Hard Enough

Copyright Creationswap, image by Bogdan Kulyk.

Copyright Creationswap, image by Bogdan Kulyk.

If anyone wrote a book about my life, it would probably have the above title.

I have struggled with guilt my whole life, and a lot of it comes from the following mental gymnastics:

I imagine if I was an angel, looking at humans from heaven, I’d be like, “They have so much opportunity! Why don’t those comfortable people help those suffering people more? I would be a much better human then them.” (A friend pointed out to me the other day that this is a very judgmental angel. 🙂 )

I feel like a big part of the world’s problem is that the fortunate don’t help the unfortunate, and I don’t want to be like that. But then I’m always afraid that I’m not doing enough.

I mirrored this problem in my novel, Hating Jeremy Walters, where my main character, Natalie, always feels like she’s not working hard enough. The only difference is that she feels she must work hard to please God; I feel I must do lots of good stuff to prove I’m not selfish. But we’re pretty similar.

But I keep having a problem with Natalie. I know her thought patterns are wrong, but when I write out both sides of the argument she can always argue her wrong side better than my ‘good’ character can argue his right side.

I know my guilty way of thinking isn’t right, but to me, it just seems so logical.

This week God gave me an insight that probably seems totally obvious to everyone else—but for me it had to come from an imaginary conversation between two book characters.

This is a rough scene from the first draft of my book, where Natalie’s boyfriend, Jeremy, is asking her to cut back on her insane workload for the sake of children in her care. (Please don’t judge me on my dialogue; this is the roughest of the rough drafts!)

“Can’t you see that there’s different ways of pleasing God? Working like a crazy person is not one of them.” Jeremy ran his fingers through his hair and pulled, like he literally wanted to tear his hair out.

“You’re just saying that because you want me home more. I can’t give it up. That would be giving up on pleasing God. I couldn’t live with the guilt.”

“Why do you talk about all this guilt? You’re forgiven. Have you forgotten what that word means?”

“It doesn’t mean that I just live a selfish life for myself after I’m saved.”

Every time I thought about a different version of this conversation, this is where it ended. The “But I can’t be selfish/lazy!” line was the trump card. Jeremy’s comebacks never seemed convincing enough.

One day I ran the conversation through my head again, and when it got to this point, Jeremy got so frustrated that he stood up and yelled,

“But you refuse to admit there is a middle ground!”

And I stopped and thought, What? Then I projected myself into Natalie again.

“What?”

“You say that you can’t be lazy or selfish. But ‘not overworking’ doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It’s not one extreme or the other.”

“But I—”

“You also refuse to see that a striving spirit doesn’t bring God any glory. Actually, I think that de-prioritising relationships and justifying yourself through work is just as bad—or worse—than laziness.”

Natalie paused. Worse than laziness? Apart from the obvious things like murder, nothing was worse than laziness. But a comeback for Jem eluded her.

Yes! I finally shut her up!

Natalie still has some tough lessons to learn through the book, but at least I can finally figure out the ‘good’ side of the argument.

Yes, God doesn’t want us to be lazy. But neither does he want us to be striving, burned-out, duty-bound people who have no fun. That brings him zero glory, and we get really tempted to feel like our work justifies us instead of his grace.

I find it hard to walk the middle ground, and even when I strike the right balance I feel like it’s not enough. But I guess that’s why God gave us his Holy Spirit, to help point me the right way again.

It just makes me laugh when he uses imaginary characters to do it.

Can anyone else relate? What’s been an unusual light bulb moment for you? How do you deal with workaholism or guilt?

Join the conversation below!

 

 

A Real Author Is Looking At My Writing!

dfg

Did some serious writing this week.

Hey all—no official post this week, because I’ve been doing exciting things!

On Sunday I won an auction to have Christian author Cara Putman critique the first chapter and synopsis of my book, Hating Jeremy Walters! Needless to say, I was SUPER excited.

But…I didn’t actually have the chapter or synopsis written yet. (Well, I’d done first drafts 10 months ago, but I hadn’t re-written a good version.)

So I have done nothing this week except write, work, write, eat, sleep, write, write, write. And this morning, I finally hit SEND!

Big shout out to my amazing critique group, who answered my SOS call and critiqued about three times the usual word limit in a very short period of time.

I can’t wait to work with Cara and hear what advice she has to give me.

See you all next week!

 

Book Review: Just Between You and Me

Just Between You and Me

Funny. Romantic. The sucks-you-in-so-you-can’t-put-it-down kind of interesting. Jenny B Jones is onto a good thing with her book, Just Between You And Me. Here’s the blurb on Amazon:

Maggie Montgomery lives a life of adventure. Her job as a cinematographer takes her from one exotic locale to the next. When Maggie’s not working, she loves to rappel off cliffs or go skydiving. Nothing frightens her. Nothing, that is, except Ivy, Texas, where a family emergency pulls her back home to a town full of bad memories, painful secrets, and people Maggie left far behind . . . for a reason.

Forced to stay longer than she intended, Maggie finds her family a complete mess, including the niece her sister has abandoned. Ten-year-old Riley is struggling in school and out of control at home. The only person who can really handle the pint-sized troublemaker is Conner, the local vet and Ivy’s most eligible bachelor. But Conner and Maggie keep butting heads–he’s suspicious of her and, well, she doesn’t rely on anyone but herself.

As Maggie humorously fumbles her way from one mishap to another, she realizes she’s going to need to ask for help from the one person who scares her the most. To save one little girl–and herself–can Maggie let go of her fears and just trust God?

I bought this book as a birthday present to myself on the weekend (I got a Kindle for my birthday and LOVE IT!) And I wasn’t disappointed. Jenny B Jones is the author I’ve been searching for.  I love to read a good romance, and I have no problem with a contemporary setting, but most modern romances are either full of suspense, depressingly tragic, or sickeningly sweet. I struggle to find a middle ground that combines realism with an entertaining story. That’s part of why I’m writing my novels; I want to fill that gap. But Jones’ stories do that and more. That girl had got one awesome funny bone, and she puts it to good use. Just Between You And Me had me giggling all the way through at the snappy one-liners and unexpectedly good comebacks. I give it 4.5 out of five stars!